SC seeks response from Maharashtra government in Palghar lynching case

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400"] People from village lynching sadhus. (File photo)[/caption]

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a response from the state government on petitions filed by the CBI and NIA for the investigation of the alleged beating of three persons, including two sadhus and their driver by a violent mob in the month of April in Palghar district of Maharashtra.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Justice MR Shah and Justice V Ramasubramanian issued notice to the Maharashtra government after hearing two petitions seeking inquiry from the CBI and NIA through video conferencing. The court will now consider the matter further in the second week of July.

The first petition in this case has been filed by the saints of the 'Sri Panch Dushman Juna Akhara' and the relatives of the deceased sages. The petition alleged that the state police is maliciously investigating the incident in Palghar district. The second petition has been filed by Ghanshyam Upadhyay and he has requested the National Investigation Agency to conduct an inquiry into the incident.

One of these petitioners has made the Central Government, CBI and the Director General of Maharashtra Police as defendants in this case along with the Government of Maharashtra. On 16 April, amidst the full ban imposed during the corona, two sadhus were traveling from Kandivali in Mumbai to Surat in Gujarat to attend the funeral.

A mob stopped and attacked him in Gadchinchali village of Palghar district. Violent mob allegedly beat up both the monks and their driver in the presence of police. Those killed in the incident were identified as 70-year-old Chicana Maharaj Kalpavriksha Giri and 35-year-old Sushil Giri Maharaj and 30-year-old driver Nilesh Telgade.

Hearing a separate petition filed for a CBI probe into the matter, the apex court had on May 1 directed the Maharashtra government to submit a progress report of the investigation. The new petition of the sadhus of Shri Panch Dashaban Juna Akhada has requested to hand over the investigation of the incident to the CBI. The petition claimed that there was a possibility of malfeasance in the Maharashtra Police investigation.

The petition said that several video clips was viral on social media and in the news indicated the active involvement of the police present at the scene, who could be seen handing over the three persons to the crowd of people gathered. According to the petition, the entire incident and the ways of dealing with it give rise to many questions which have not been answered till date and the petitioners suspect that these questions will never be answered without an independent agency investigating the incident.

During the hearing of these petitions, the advocate for the petitioners claimed that the witnesses in the case are committing suicide and in such a situation there is complete reason to believe that the investigation is not going in the right direction. Another petitioner's lawyer told the bench That he feared that the evidence of this incident would be deleted while the counsel for the Government of Maharashtra opposed these petitions and said that similar petitions are pending in the Bombay High Court. Police have arrested more than one hundred suspects in connection with this triple murder.